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Airlines: New rules keep passengers in seats

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Airline Passengers See Tighter Security

(Dec. 26) -- Extra pat-downs before boarding. No getting up for the last hour of the flight. More bomb-sniffing dogs. Airports worldwide tightened security a day after a passenger tried to light some kind of explosive on a flight into Detroit.

The Transportation Security Administration wouldn't say exactly what it was doing differently on Saturday. It didn't need to.
Passengers getting off both U.S. domestic flights and those arriving from overseas reported being told that they couldn't get out of their seat for the last hour of their flight. Air Canada also said that during the last hour passengers won't be allowed access to carry-on baggage or to have any items on their laps.

The extra vigilance came after a man flying from Nigeria to Amsterdam to the U.S. tried to ignite a device just before the plane landed in Detroit on Friday.

"The extra measures apply worldwide on all flights to the U.S. as of now and for an indefinite period," said Judith Sluiter, spokeswoman for the Dutch National Coordinator for Counterterrorism.

Jennifer Allen encountered the tougher security on her way from Amsterdam to Detroit on Saturday. Her Northwest Airlines flight on Saturday was on the same route disrupted by the attempted attack a day earlier.

"They patted you down really well," said Allen, 41, an automotive engineer from Shelby Township, Mich. "It wasn't just a quick rub, it was a slow pat. They went through everything in your bags, went through the pockets in your pants, the pockets of your coat."

Other passengers said security officers went through their luggage more thoroughly. For the last hour of the flight on Saturday, they had to keep their seat belts on and couldn't use electronic devices or get up to go to the bathroom.

Sarabjit Dhillon, 35, of Sterling Heights, Mich., was returning from a visit to India with family. Even her three young children got a pat-down.

"They had to open each and every item. They didn't tell us why they were doing it, they just said the United States wanted them to do it, to check everything," she said.

The incident on the flight from Amsterdam is a reminder that securing U.S. airports is only part of the solution, said Elaine Dezenski, who until recently was managing director of the Global Security Initiative at Interpol and also used to work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

"More and more it's not about what happens in the U.S. airports, it's what's happening outside the U.S. and how the system can or cannot be infiltrated," she said.

At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the airport police dogs, which are trained to detect explosives, were out on Saturday. Airport spokesman Perry Cooper said the extra effort was at the request of the TSA.

Passengers flying to the United States from London's Heathrow said they received text messages informing them the could carry only one piece of hand baggage onto the plane.

Italy's civil aviation authority, ENAC, said its extra measures for passengers leaving for the U.S. included increased passenger and baggage searches. It said the extra measures were requested by the TSA and will initially remain in place for 72 hours.

The general alert level at Schipol airport in Amsterdam was not immediately raised after the incident, and security procedures for other flights remained unchanged, Sluiter said.

Schiphol is one of Europe's busiest airports and tranports passengers from Africa and Asia to North America. It has been testing full body scanners for about a year that allow security staff to see the outline of a passenger and potential weapons beneath their clothes, and intend to roll out a more complete program next year, said airport spokeswoman Mirjam Snoerwang.

Passengers in Brussels, where the EU is based, were advised to reach the airport three hours before departure to allow time for a second security check at the boarding gate.

In Sweden, Denmark and Norway, airport operators said they would apply tougher security checks on flights destined for the U.S., but that they did not plan tighter security rules for other flights.

Officials in the Mideast and in India said they were maintaining their current procedures, which they said were already high.

Little was different at the airport in Lagos, Nigeria, where the man's trip originated. Soldiers impassively stared at those passing into the departure terminal Saturday. Others sat and talked among themselves, loaded rifles tossed over their shoulders.

Passengers moved quickly through security, waiting only for immigration officers to examine passports and visas. A battered X-ray machine quickly passed over suitcases and shoes. Federal airport authority spokesman spokesman Akin Olukunle said the airport had no bomb-sniffing dogs but were considering getting some.

Associated Press Writers Arthur Max in Amsterdam, Corey Williams in Detroit, Jon Gambrell in Lagos, Nigeria; Paisley Dodds in London; Ariel David in Rome; Melissa Eddy in Berlin; and Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report.

Source: AOL

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